Why We Are Encouraging the Master’s Plan of Evangelism and Discipleship John L. Denney, Superintendent Southern California District, USA1. My Personal Story (Background)A. First heard of G-12 about 10+ years ago.--I reacted negatively: 1st Impression, Pentecostal & AuthoritarianB. Became DS January of 2001--Vision to help every Anglo congregation establish a Spanish ministry/newstart.--Prayer: Laborers for the HarvestC. Heard Dr. Jerry Porter speak of the Cali, Colombia Church at AnaheimDistrict Assembly, Spring of 2005.--I shared the story with my Hispanic Coordinator, Joel Guerra. He said, “Let’sget Pastor Adalberto to come to Southern California to help us plant churches.”D. Joel arranged for me to have lunch with Adalberto at General Assembly.--We invited him to pray about coming to Southern California. He said, you comesee what is happening at Cali and then we will talk.E. Joel and I spent one week at Cali Church in August of 2005.--This was a watershed moment for me when I learned that the Cali church wasdoing G-12 (Master’s Plan of Evangelism and Discipleship.) I will come back tothis later.--While there, Joel and I preached in all of their services. We asked the churchto adopt the Southern California District as their world mission field; to pray for usand to send us missionaries.F. The Herreras came to our district in October of ’05 to lead our Pastors’ &Spouses’ Retreat.--Adalberto told us about their plan to have 15,000 people on a special outreachSunday in December. I got up and said, “I want to be there for that day.” It wasan off the cuff remark, but several pastors immediately came to me and asked ifthey could go with me. In six weeks, we were in Cali with a group of 13, pastorsfrom our district and Craig Rench (Anaheim).--The most impressive things about the Cali church is intercessory prayer,evangelism, discipleship and the training and mobilization of leaders.G. The Herreras returned to our district in March ’06 to conduct an“Encounter” for pastors and spouses.--We had 75 attend from four districts.H. Current Southern California District Picture
2--Seven established churches implementing The Master’s Plan.--Four New Starts being launched with The Master’s Plan.--Cali Church has sent us two missionary couples with another couple in theprocess.II. Compelling Elements of the Master’s Plan of Evangelism andDiscipleshipA. The basic structure/system embodies the Great Commission.--It is a comprehensive system that is, interestingly enough, in line with theWesleyan “Order of Salvation.” By far the majority of our churches lack acomprehensive “system” for evangelism and disciple making (reproducingleaders).1. Win2. Consolidate3. Disciple/Teach4. SendB. The placement and purpose of the Encounter is strategic.--In the Church of the Nazarene, we have by in large lost the revival meeting andcamp meeting, the places where holiness was taught and experienced in afocused setting. The Encounter restores this much needed opportunity forteaching and call to consecration and the infilling of the Holy Spirit.C. The function of “open” and “closed” groups.1. On my first visit to Cali it dawned upon me that what they were doing was infact what John Wesley did with “classes,” “bands,” and “select societies.”2. Open group: (“cell” in G-12 system) for seekers: evangelism, spiritual nurtureand assimilation (“consolidation”).3. Closed Group: G-12 group for leadership training and reproduction. Eachleader is to be in someone’s G-12 group and after a certain point in his/hertraining they are to start developing their own G-12 group.4. D. Michael Henderson’s book, A Model For Making Disciples, John Wesley’sClass Meeting.--Providentially, I had just completed reading this book before visiting Cali inAugust of ’05. I was impacted by the commonalities between the Master’s Planand Wesley’s System. Some have been reticent to consider G-12, The Master’sPlan, because they consider it to be primarily a Pentecostal “thing”. In reality it isalmost an exact reproduction of Wesley’s method. Wesley believed that hisfollowers, who were seeking holiness, must be faithful in class and bandmeetings. This is what he meant by “social holiness.” Let’s reclaim our heritage,in message and method.III. A closer look at Wesley’s system. . .
3--Ref. Henderson, Chapter 3: “Wesley’s System of Interlocking Groups”--Wesley’s system was largely in place by 1743 and continued in its effectivenessfor over fifty years. After his death certain critical elements diminished.A. The “Society”1. Operated much like a congregation. However, membership in the Societywas conditioned upon a person’s consistent attendance to “Class” (TicketSystem), and a demonstration of “a desire to flee from the wrath to come, to besaved from their sins.” Functions at Society were teaching (lecture forknowledge) and worship. The Foundery (“United Society”) in London becamethe primary model.2. “The primary function of the society was cognitive instruction; it was theeducational channel by which the tenets of Methodism were presented to thetarget population.” (Henderson, p. 84.)3. “Members of the Society could be in disagreement with the leadership andalso be struggling with serious moral problems and still be welcome participants.But, they could not remain in the Society if their behavior threatened thecohesion of the group or blocked its normal functions.” (Henderson, p. 79)B. The “Class”1. Began as a fund raising program. Each of the leaders of the society wouldgather together eleven members of the society each week and collect a penny. Ifa member was too poor to give a penny, others would put a penny in for him.The leader would make a “particular inquiry into the behavior of those whom hesaw weekly.” (Henderson, p. 95)2. In time, “every Methodist became a member of a class and attended itregularly—or else he or she was no longer a member of the society.” (p. 95)3. The class was to be an intimate group of ten or twelve people who met weeklyfor personal supervision of their spiritual growth. (p. 95)4. The society served a “cognitive” function, whereas the class was a tool for thealteration of behavior. The “Rules” specified the basic process as “inquiry” andthe subject matter as “how their souls prospered.” “The class meetingincorporated into the lives of its members what had been taught in the societymeetings.” (Henderson, p. 107)5. Three categories of rules: (1) things to avoid, (2) positive things to pursue, (3)helpful practices to be maintained, which were known as the “means of grace.”6. Class membership marked by heterogeneous make up: gender, age, socialstanding, and spiritual maturity. Organized on the basis of geographicalproximity.7. The “class” functioned as an “open” group with a qualification. Visitors couldattend “class” twice before deciding to join. They were not allowed to continuewithout some basic commitment to the group and to the process. This protectedthe intimacy of the group and helped increase the commitment level.
48. Personal religious experience was the primary topic of discussion.9. Lead by a peer who was chosen and appointed by the leader of the Society.The leader acted as a “sub-pastor”. In Methodism this position was the “firstrung” of leadership. (Same with The Master’s Plan) This position did not requirea great amount of training. However, the leader must exhibit faithfulness,honesty, and concern for people.10. Henderson: “Anyone who demonstrated these qualities as a class leadercould rise to higher levels of leadership, but without them it was impossible to bea Methodist leader, no matter how educated or wealthy or talented.” (P. 101)11. This is also true of the “Master’s Plan” system. This is a very practicalanswer to the “Empowering Leadership” deficiency of the typical Nazarenecongregation. (See “”Natural Church Development”)12. Itemized summary of the role of the Classes on pp. 110-112 of Henderson.C. The “Band”1. “The bands were voluntary cells of people who profess a clear Christiancommitment and who desired to grow in love, holiness, and purity of intention.”(Henderson, p. 112)2. “In the Methodist system, the society meetings aimed at cognitive instruction(preaching and teaching), the class meeting provided an environment forbehavioral change, and the band facilitated affective redirection.” (Henderson, p.112)3. The primary methodology of the band was “close conversation,” soulsearching examination, not so much of behavior and ideas but of motives andheartfelt impressions. (Similar to Wesley’s Holy Club endeavors)4. Operated as a “closed” group; high commitment and high accountability. Novisitors allowed due to the sensitivity of the “close conversation.” Potentialmembers of the band were required to apply, go through screening and berecommended by members of the group who already knew them.5. Wesley started with the band as his primary small group mode. By 1742 hedeveloped the class as the primary entry level, leaving the band at anintermediate level. (Henderson, p. 115)6. Holiness was the focus of both the classes and the bands, the classesfocused on the holiness lifestyle (behavioral) and the bands focused on “inwardpurity” and “perfect love” (affective).7. Wesley’s methodology was an “interlocking system,” built on a central focusand priority. “Each component depended on the others, and working together toaccomplish different facets of the stated goal.” (Henderson, p. 115)8. The dynamics of the band, a closed group with high commitment and highaccountability, are synonymous with the G-12 group.
5D. The “Select Society”1. “In the early years of Methodism, the uppermost group in the instructionalhierarchy was the select society. As its name suggests, it was a ‘select’company of men and women whom Wesley had hand-picked from among themost faithful Methodists. The purpose of this group was to model or exemplifywhat Methodism was all about, and it was to provide a training experience in thedoctrines and methods of Methodism.” (Henderson, p. 121)--Excerpt from Wesley’s A Plain Account of the People Called Methodists (1742):“I saw it might be useful to give some advices to all those who continued in thelight of God’s countenance, which the rest of the brethren did not want, andprobably could not receive. So I desired a small number of such as appeared tobe in this state, to spend an hour with me every Monday morning. My designwas, not only to direct them how to press after perfection; to exercise their everygrace, and improve every talent they had received; and to incite them to love oneanother more, and to watch more carefully over each other; but also to have aselect company, to whom I might unbosom myself on all occasions, withoutreserve; and whom I could propose to al their brethren as a pattern of love, ofholiness, and of good works.” (Henderson, p. 122)2. The members of the select society were individuals who had proventhemselves not only by participation in all other levels of Methodism but weredemonstrating leadership at those levels, society, class and band.3. “This highest mode of the hierarchy was intended to be the capstone of theirtraining experience, so that the membership of the select society provided aconstant pool of available and ready leadership for top positions in the system.”(Henderson, p. 123) This characteristic is one of the most impressive aspects ofa church utilizing the Master’s Plan of Evangelism and Discipleship (G-12). Thestrength of the lay ministry at Cali Church of the Nazarene is readily apparent.4. The select society “ran” Methodism. “Wesley encouraged a freewheeling andopen discussion, especially on matters of significance to the direction andpolicies of Methodism. He welcomed criticism of the system and of his ownplace in it. He made it clear that in this context, the participants would hammerout strategy for the societies and have a major voice in the decision makingprocess.” (Henderson, p. 123) This was a kind of “on the job” leadership trainingexperience for the participants.5. While visiting Cali Church I was privileged to sit in with Pastor Adalberto’smeeting of his “twelve.” I would describe the character of that meeting as exactlythe same as how Wesley utilized his select society.--Also see bottom of page 124. (Henderson)6. One of Wesley’s key concepts was that “The primary function ofspiritual/educational leadership is to equip others to lead and minister, not toperform the ministry personally.” (Henderson, p. 129)7. The select societies failed to continue after Wesley’s death. Was this thebeginning of the eventual fragmentation of the bands and the classes?
6E. “Penitent Bands”--Groups designed specifically for people struggling to overcome their personalproblems and addictions. Functioned very similar to contemporary recoverygroups, “12 step” groups, etc.Concluding Thoughts regarding why we are encouraging the Master’s Plan:It is. . .1. The method modeled by Jesus Himself when he selected twelve, discipledthem, empowered them and sent them to fulfill the Great Commission.2. The method that was at the heart of Wesley’s genius as a revivalist andreformer, who was instrumental in sustaining a spiritual awakening that enduredfifty years of his lifetime and beyond.--While we have retained the outline of his holiness message, we have, by inlarge lost any resemblance of the methods of Wesley. What might happen if theChurch of the Nazarene rediscovered and implemented the strategy that Wesleyand others credited for the strength of his movement?3. When understood and implemented properly, the Master’s Plan (G-12)system provides the most comprehensive and complete strategy for fulfilling theGreat Commission today. A dying church can be refocused and revived throughintercessory prayer and this strategy. Don’t miss Dave Rhone’s workshop tofollow.4. It embodies Eph. 4:11-12 and makes Equipping the saints for ministry morethan a motto.5. God is blessing it.